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SOUVENIR-CHARTERS TOWERS, 1872 TO JULY, 1950             Page 15

More About the Good Old Days

THE following statements are not guaranteed as being authentic, but are given by a group of persons, who, even at this stage, prefer to go under the non-de-plumes of Mullocky Micky, Hangingwall Herbert and Footwall Phil.-Thasnuf.

'Tis recorded that gold to the value of about :£32,000,000 has been produced from the Charters Towers Goldfield. No record could possibly be kept however of a tremendous amount of gold which was never handled through the usual channels.

The late Mr. L. Marsland, of Marsland and Marsland, well-known solicitors of fifty years ago, made rather exhaustive investigations as to what caused the large discrepancy in values between the gold produced by mills and cyanide works and that bought by the banks. He published the result of his efforts, and the publication resulted in much comment and argument. A resume of his findings appeared about 1930, in one of the last editions of the "Queenslander ."    .

The figures quoted below are not, correct, and are purely illustrative but they are reasonably approximate to those of Mr. Marsland. His figures referred to the production of the years 1898 and 1899. For the purpose of illustration, the year 1900 is chosen, because in that year Charters Towers was at, or near, its production peak.

The successful extraction of gold from tailings by the cyanide process was now in full swing, and many thousands of extra ounces of bullion were produced. During 1900, the batteries and cyanide works    produced,    we'll    say,  300,000 ounces, yet the banks in Charters Towers in that year bought £330,000; a discrepancy of 30,000 ounces after proving a shortage of about this amount. Mr. Marsland tersely added to his remarks, "Only some of this gold was sold in Charters Towers."

Since the creation of man, he has generally easily fallen to temptation. Good little Eve fell very quickly, and, unknowingly, set up a popular fashion which has persisted through the ages. The Towers diggers were just as human as their forbears. Some may have had greater pretentions towards honesty than others, but the sight of a most malleable metal in a most friable quartz proved a sore trial to most. Fingers itched and twitched, and seemed to become coated with bird lime of a most mucilageous consistency. Oh, yes! they fell, and in numbers, too.

Now, how did this gold get into banks, other than along the usual legitimate course. The ruses were many and varied.

When gold was free, and it often was, in those days, a few deft hammer strokes shed the quartz and shaped the metal to a convenient size and shape. Most miners smoked, pipes, a pennyweight or two could easily be covered by Derby or Havelock tobacco in a reasonably capacious bowl. This was considered good beer money. Other miners with greater tenerity carried larger pieces under the armpits, between the butocks, in the mouth, in crib bags, in billy cans, in waterbags, and the red puggy clay used for holding and sticking the candles to the wall was often a handy hiding place.

It must be understood, that in those days miners coming off shift walked into a large bathroom, doffed their working clothes, bathed if they wished, and, under a watchman's eye, walked into another change room, and donned their going home clothes. Did this act as a deterrent? Not at all.

Men more daring, wily and guileful, garnered larger quantities than those mentioned above. Old timers at present visiting the old Town will probably become reminiscent, and recollect many of those incidents.
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